Everybody needs a constant companion in their life. Sometimes that companion is a friend, sibling or a life partner. You count on that companion to be there for you, no matter what time or day it is. You count on that companion to support you, to take away your pains, to replace the gloom on your face with a dazzling smile. I too have such a companion – MY books. My first and foremost love.
I started reading books as soon as I learnt how to (but to my mother’s horror, I never read study books).
Initially, my reading centered on Champak, Twinkle and Readers’ Digest. I still remember those good old days when I used to rush from the school to home simply because new issue of Champak or Twinkle was awaiting at home for me. Even my love for food (which is quite legendary among my friends) used to take a back seat (and it still does) when it came to reading. This love of mine blossomed in my teenage years. I got introduced to Mills & Boons. I know it sounds clichéd but I simply used to love those old Mills & Boons romance stories, where the hero used to be tall, dark and handsome man with immense power, and the heroine was eternally beautiful and intensely compassionate female who perfectly complimented the hero at the end. I even fell in love with one of those heroes. I still remember reading that particular story again and again as any normal teenager would do to get a glimpse of her first crush. Oh, that unforgettable sweet love!
Then came the day when I realized that books were not just books for me. They meant much more to me. I remember that day of realization very clearly because that was the day when I stopped giving undue importance to relationships. I had a huge row with my friends in the school. I came back home crying. I was so deeply hurt by my friends that I was literally mourning their death in my heart, although I never realized that at the time. I mopped around for few days and frayed my parents’ patience to the end. And then my parents had had enough of it. They knew what I needed. They shoved some money in my hands and pushed me into a book store. I didn’t want to go but they kept prodding me until I went, and today I am glad that they did that. I don’t want to sound dramatic but what happened at that time shaped my life quite a bit. Although I had entered the store grudgingly, suddenly I knew I had found my true friends. The somber and sorrowful heart was injected with warmth and acceptance. I felt serene and peaceful. The inner tsunami turned into clam waters, and I reconciled to the fact that I don’t get along with people as well as I get along with books. Yes, it was a painful realization but it has saved a lot of heartache for me in this lifetime.
As time went, I grew from Mills & Boons to serious suspense and thrillers. I entered the world of Sidney Sheldon, Ken Follett and Robin Cook. Sheldon intrigued me; Follett sent the chills down my back; and Cook? Cook made me huddle in my blankets just to get rid of that nauseating imagination of mine that converted his writings into a feature film in my brain. These writers, along with other few to whom I was introduced in the various stages of my life, gave wings to my imagination. I laughed with them, wept with them and got scared with them.
Today, I have reached the stage where I can’t be without my books. If there’s a competition between a book and a chocolate cake dripping with delicious, lip-smacking chocolate sauce, the book wins hands down for me. My family likes to call it my addiction. May be they are right. I buy books. When I can’t afford to buy, I become a member of a library. When I am done with all the books in that library, I change the library. I read online and offline, anytime and anywhere.
I am glad and grateful that books are my champion, that books anchor me in this storm of life. When I am trying to find meaning in this meaningless life, only books make sense to me. They teach me and give me a purpose in life. To many it may sound stupid and sheer waste of time but I hope there are some people out there who understand this love, this life-time affair; and to all such people, I dedicate this post.